Reading Stories

“Mama,” Hannah looked up at me.

“Yes?” I asked, distractedly.

“I hate the part of reading when you are almost done and you know the book is almost over. Especially if it’s a really really good one!”

“I couldn’t agree more,” I told her. She now had my full attention. One thing I have always loved is reading with the minions. I couldn’t wait until they were finally old enough to enjoy Harry Potter. Hannah loves Amelia Bedelia, as well as Ramona Quimby- one of my absolute favorites. Jacob is also a voracious reader, inhaling any books about subjects that interest him (currently WWII). On the fiction side he reads any James Patterson book he can get his hands on and we’ve read all of the Magic Treehouse series.

Novels, movies, blogs, music, television series – form is not important. Getting lost in a great story is one of my favorite ways to spend my time. My hope was that my kids would enjoy stories – reading specifically – just as much. We read some Minecraft books a few year a ago, a not-so-scary Stephen King novella, and some Judy Blume. Sometimes we take turns each reading a chapter, other times I’m just tired and they read to me. Most of the time I read aloud.

We start reading just a chapter of a book and then I’ll say, “Ehhh…that one’s no good. We probably shouldn’t keep reading it…”

“NO NO NO! Mama please keep reading!!!!” They both plead. “Pleeease!”

“If you’re sure…” I continue to drag out the drama of my reluctance, silently cheering in my mind that they are excited (finally) about a selection I have chosen.

Tonight we started one of the first books I remember reading as a class in Mr. Ziegler’s 5th grade; Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls. It’s a classic and most of the time when I pull an old book off the shelf, the kids groan and won’t give it a chance; hence my new ‘give it one chapter and then decide’ tactic. It worked like a charm.

“Just one more chapter????”

“Sure. Just one more…,”

…as they have to convince me to keep reading.

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Radical Honesty

Authenticity, radical honesty, and simply put in the author’s own word: brutiful – Glennon Doyle Melton’s Love Warrior is sitting with a bookmark half way through it’s pages, begging me to finish it.

Seriously.

It is SO raw and honest. I’ve laughed. I’ve cried. Reading this feels like when you stare directly into the sun. It’s piercing honesty will force you to set it down, simply to digest it before picking back up again. Her response of “how was your day” with 3 children left me open-mouthed, marveling at how brave she is to bare it all. It’s against the rules to say this stuff out loud. We are supposed to “cherish every moment” while raising our kids. Aren’t we?

B.S.

Not every moment is Instagrammable. Some of them down right suck.

“It was the best of times and the worst of times. I was both lonely and never alone. I was simultaneously bored out of my skull and completely overwhelmed. I was saturated with touch – desperate to get the baby off of me and the second I put her down I yearned to smell her sweet skin again. This day required more than I’m physically and emotionally capable of, while requiring nothing from my brain. I had thoughts today, ideas, important things to say and no one to hear them.

I felt manic all day, alternating between love and fury. at least once an hour I looked at their faces and thought I might not survive the tenderness of my love for them. The next moment I was furious. I felt like a dormant volcano, steady on the outside but ready to explode and spew hot lava at any moment. And then I noticed that Amma’s foot doesn’t fit into her Onsie anymore, and I started to panic at the reminder that this will be over soon, that it’s fleeting-that this hardest time of my life is supposed to be the best time of my life. That this brutal time is also the most beautiful time. Am I enjoying it enough? Am I missing the best time of my life? Am I too tired to be properly in love? That fear and shame felt like adding a heavy, itchy blanket on top of all the hard.

But I’m not complaining, so please don’t try to fix it. I wouldn’t have my day or my life any other way. I’m just saying – it’s a hell of a hard thing to explain – an entire day with lots of babies. If’s far too much and not even close to enough.

But I’m too tired to say any of this. I’m a windup doll that’s run out. So I just say, ‘Our day was fine.'”

-Glennon Doyle Melton, from Love Warrior

How often do we respond with, “I’m fine”? And how often are we not fine at all?

While not all the specific parts of her life are necessarily universal, most are symptoms masking the truths which are; shame, vulnerability, worthiness, etc.

I am a huge fan of Brene Brown. What she discusses in terms of shame and vulnerability in an academic way from the viewpoint of a researcher, Glennon “does her research in the field”. If you have read Brown’s work or seen her TedTalk, you need to know Glennon Doyle Melton.

I’m going to go finish my copy while you go purchase yours!

Mishmash and Miscellany

We have rounded out the second week of school in our neck of the woods and it has been busy, as usual. Here’s the mishmash rundown…

My dear hubby thought what better way to start off the back to school season than with a school of fish?! Eric texts me from the pet store, where he was purchasing items for the pets we already have, and says, “The kids would like fish**.” I reply back, “NO. NO NO NO.”

**Later it was discovered that it wasn’t the kids who wanted the fish, it was Eric, and the kids wholeheartedly agreed.

He comes home with this:

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Fish?! Apparently it’s a yes!

I have to admit, the kids dig it. They are excited to get up and check on them each morning. (They check on them every morning now because the first school of finned friends were floating the first morning.)

I’ve been doing some reading. There are seriously not enough hours to read all the books I want to read! Fiction, non-fiction, text books, you name it – I want to read it! Here’s just a small sampling of what is on my short list:

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I just finished Rising Strong by Brene Brown. LOVE. If you read The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly, this is the next steps or the How-To manual for getting back up after falling. (HIGHLY recommend all Brene’s books!)

Speaking of falling…I sprained my ankle last weekend. In the middle of a 12 miler out and back. Mile 6 I catch a concealed dip in the grassy area along side the sidewalk. No, I did not bring my phone. I had to walk/jog it all the way back. Did I mention it was on a busy street? With cars driving by? Yeah, there was an audience as I totally twisted my ankle, went down on all fours in slow motion. Rocks digging into my palms, grit in my teeth, me and my bruised ego got back up and walked a bit before attempting to jog slowly on it. There were not-so-nice words spoken uttered spat as I kept moving forward.

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My swollen ankle. I can put weight on it. Doc says to stop running for 2 weeks, then marathon training will resume!

Hannah is enjoying kinder and has been “on green” all week (their behavior-color change system) and got to go to her class treasure box and picked out this gem!

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Not quite sure who this crazy is in my car! I thought I had picked up my daughter from school, but when I turned around I couldn’t find her!

Finally, we have entered the phase of extra-curricular activities. We dabbled in a bit of little league with Jacob a couple of years ago (herding cats, anyone?!) but he didn’t really dig it. We do believe that if we start a season, we finish it. So we make very sure when we commit, it’s something we really really want to do. (And that includes Eric and I!)

What I love (so far) about the Boy Scouts is the commitment to getting outdoors, as well as the community outreach component. All in a non-competitive environment. (No, competition isn’t a bad thing. I just like that it’s not a focus.) The kids earn their badges and their awards, all while learning, camping and experiencing other nature-based activities. They are in competition with themselves. (Which is also why I love the running community so much.)

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Could he be any cuter?! (The hubby isn’t bad either!)
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His first little Tiger uniform. In first grade they are Tigers. How appropriate since Eric’s childhood nickname was Tiger.
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Just love..and a dog begging for some fetch!

Now it is Friday. Ahhh, Friday. No homework, some games of Uno and Trouble are on the agenda. Spin this weekend, some fun training clients – and perhaps some holiday waterslides to cap it all off!

Happy 3-day Weekend!

Mr. Mom

I love my husband.

Seriously. This whole mommy getaway adventure is because of him. He encouraged me to go, assured me it would all be taken care of, and he had it all under control at home.

Seriously!? Who wouldn’t love this man? Here is what he’s been up to:

IMG_8085.JPG Reading to Jake’s class during his “Star Student week”!

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Folding clothes late on a Friday night while I was at dinner!

IMG_8093.JPGAnd this morning he’s taking them to the school fun run!

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IMG_8096.JPG He’s also been sending me pictures and calling to say goodnight with the kids so I don’t feel out of the loop!

It’s the little things. I love this man!

Parenting: Are We Over Thinking It?

I’ve been told that I “read too much” or “think too much” or “worry too much” when it comes to parenting. Not by anyone person, but in general – by a couple of people.

Shaking their heads from side to side with that look that says “there’s just too much information out there”.  We read books, blogs, articles from parenting magazines or online and pamphlets at the pediatrician’s office trying to do what is best. How are we to know what’s best? It doesn’t seem, at least in my circle of parent friends, that we have the luxury of multitudes of extended family on both sides waiting to chip in with tried and true methods of raising kids, as was the case in say, my husband’s family. (His mother moved in with her mother and father-in-law when she and her husband were married!)

We are in the military so we move frequently. Even outside of the military, families are much more mobile than in generations past as we travel to where the job market dictates. With this mobility, that “village” that it takes to raise kids is altered.  Without the network or village of extended family, and with the amazing amount of information (both good and not so) is it any wonder that we parents tend to seek out other opinions, methods and techniques in raising our children? Is that a bad thing? If it is, why?

It seems like the “kids should be seen and not heard” generation came at parenting more from a biological “this is just what we do” approach. Get married – check. Have kids – check. No examination or reflection or parenting seminars. No helicopter parenting, just life rolling along. Perhaps there could be a middle ground. Somewhere in the middle of “my kids are simply a function of biology/a checkmark on life’s to-do list” and “Super duper over-involved helicopter mom who checks and rechecks if Tommy is “okay” with the day’s plan” would be nice.

I often hear, “Parenting is the hardest thing you’ll ever do.” I completely agree. In marriage and other relationships, we work at them via counseling, marriage retreats, date nights, etc. Why should our parenting journey be any different? If parenting is truly the hardest job (and most rewarding), why not learn and grow and “work on” our relationships with our children?

If I want to improve my running, I read up on form, technique and training ideas. Some of it works and some of it doesn’t. The same holds true for learning to be the best parent I can be – use what works, toss what doesn’t. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Parenting isn’t easy, regardless of generation. I don’t think one generation is better, or worse. They are just different. And with that difference comes it’s own challenges and advantages.

What about you? Been told you are “over-thinking it” lately?